Living the Spiritual Dream World
“He felt that his whole life was some kind of dream and he sometimes wondered whose it was and whether they were enjoying it.” Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
We all begin our lives perceiving and living in this corporeal world, until one day we discover a unique desire for something new and different, mostly called “spirituality.” We try to imagine what is going on there—in the spiritual world—and attempt to picture how different life would be if we felt spirituality, if it wasn’t concealed from us. “What’s it like?” we wonder, “What is really going on there?”
Kabbalists tell us that there are hints in the corporeal world that can help us better understand what spirituality is. One such hint, which can help answer our questions, is our dreams.
“We were as dreamers.”
Kabbalists, those who feel the spiritual world, tell us that prior to their spiritual attainment, they were “as dreamers.” But what can this teach us about spirituality?
We have all had dreams, and we know that they can be happy, sad, exciting, dull, full of pleasure, terrifying, and so on. Dreams cover the full gamut of possible emotions, and sometimes they feel so real that to us that we could swear they happened in real life.
It’s Just One of Those Dreams...
But how real are dreams? If we have missed dinner one evening and gone to bed hungry, we may dream about eating a huge, delicious feast. We gorge to the point of oblivion, unable to take another bite—yet in the morning, when the alarm clock sounds and we stir from this wonderful experience, we find our stomachs growling with hunger. So the feast was only a dream, while in reality our stomachs were empty.
Now think of someone who leads a very modest life, pinching pennies to make ends meet. One night that person dreams of winning the lottery: He’s worth millions, and the life of abject poverty is now a distant memory. All day long, he enjoys leisure and bliss…until suddenly he wakes up.
What if your current life was nothing more than one of those dreams? Kabbalists say that the real you is the soul and the real world is spiritual, but the dream you are having seems utterly real—believing that you are the physical you and the world you are living in is the corporeal world.
This is what Kabbalists mean by their “hint,” when they compare how they felt prior to their spiritual attainment to a dream. This analogy indicates that our corporeal lives are like a dream, and everything that happens to us, our entire corporeal existence, is not our real life—but a temporary dream of our soul.
The soul has many dreams, and each dream is what we feel as a corporeal lifetime. But when the soul wakes up, we discover that there are no lifetimes and no time at all, but only an eternal spiritual realm.
Stop Hitting the Snooze
What does it take to wake us from our regular dreams? Most of us wake up to the annoying sound of an alarm clock that squeals loudly enough to break through any dream. In spirituality, instead of alarm clocks, there are desires.
Just as the ring of an alarm clock comes from beyond our dream world existence, so the spiritual desire within us is not part of this dream called “corporeal life.” One day it calls to us from our true, spiritual existence, beckoning us to awaken.
And just as some of us are in the habit of pushing “snooze” until the last possible minute, many of us feel our spiritual desires as a mere annoyance, not nearly strong enough to shake us out of our spiritual sleep. Yet the stronger the spiritual desire becomes, the more it demands that we pay attention to it.
But here is where corporeal dreams and spiritual dreams (called “corporeal life”) begin to diverge: In our corporeal dreams, a quick jolt is all we need to awaken to reality, whereas in order to awaken from our spiritual dreams, we must actually help that desire along by developing it ourselves.
How can we do this? We do it by reading authentic texts written by those who have already awakened, by seeking out a genuine, spiritual guide, and by studying with friends who are on the same path. In other words, we speed up our process of awakening—instead of waiting for it to prod us until it becomes unbearable.
And what is that special desire, the “alarm clock” that calls to us from the spiritual world? It is a simple desire to wake up and feel our true, spiritual existence. It is the clarion call from our spiritually awake state, beckoning us to come back to consciousness and return to real life.